Western Tanzania

Meet the chimpanzees

Tanzania's Western safari parks, Katavi and Mahale, are the road less travelled. Due to the relative costs and inaccessibility of the region, only those ready to invest time and money tend to be able to get out here, which is a massive shame as this is an outstanding region of Africa.

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Western Tanzania is highly regarded, known for being one of the all-time great trips on the African continent.

Ben Nelson

Tanzania's Western safari parks, Katavi and Mahale, are the road less travelled. Due to the relative costs and inaccessibility of the region, only those ready to invest time and money tend to be able to get out here, which is a massive shame as this is an outstanding region of Africa.

Mahale National Park

The lakeshore here is of the best powder-white sand, behind which rises a scope of forcing mountains clad in verdant tropical vegetation. Giant electric-blue butterflies dance over the streams, and the woods burst at the seams with sound. It's delightful, yet it also harbours Tanzania's population of primates: yellow mandrill, red colobus, blue, red-followed, and vervet monkeys are rarely far away - and obviously, there are the chimpanzees.

Katavi National Park

Katavi National Park is one of the best parks in Africa, and many safari operations would love to start camps here. However, the logistics and costs are so difficult that only a couple of small, permanent safari camps share this 4,500km² of wilderness. You sometimes run across more prides of lion than other people on a game drive!

See the Chimps

In Mahale National Park, the chimps follow the fruiting patterns, and in August-October the lower slopes produce ripe fruit. Chimps can be heard hooting and screeching in the forest behind the camp. The weather is also perfect at this time of year for for enjoying the Lake and boats during the rest of the day.

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When to go

The debated best time to head to Katavi National Park is from the end of August until the end of September when the famous denning crocodile and the hippo pools are most visible whilst water levels are low. This said, if you were to head to the region from the middle of June until the middle of November, you wouldn't be disappointed.

How to get there

Getting to and from the Western safari parks is the biggest challenge for travel time and cost. Currently, there are two routes, out and back. The first is from Arusha as the starting point and flying with Nomad Safaris on their shared charter flight on Mondays and Thursdays. Using Nomad does mean that you need to stay in at least one of their properties, but the flight is in the region of 4 hours and is pretty simple.

The second option is to overnight in Ruaha National Park and fly using Safari Airlink, again on Mondays and Thursdays. While this adds an extra day to the itinerary as you need to fly from Dar es Salaam to Ruaha the night before, you can choose which properties you stay at.

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Ben Nelson
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